Priest in Mexico shot and wounded

David Ramos   By David Ramos for CNA


Father Felipe Vélez Jiménez, the pastor of St. Gerard Maria Majella parish in the town of Iguala, was shot in the cheekbone right while driving his vehicle in Chilapa county, in the State of Guerrero, on July 28, 2022. / Courtesy of the Diocese of Chilpancingo-Chilapa

Mexico City Newsroom, Jul 29, 2022 / 15:12 pm (CNA).

A Mexican priest was shot in the face around noon on July 28, while driving his car in the state of Guerrero.

According to a statement from the Mexican Bishops’ Conference, Father Felipe Vélez Jiménez, the pastor of St. Gerard Maria Majella parish in the town of Iguala, in the Diocese of Chilpancingo-Chilapa, was “shot in the cheekbone right while driving his vehicle in Chilapa county, in the State of Guerrero.”

“Our brother priest was transferred to the hospital where he is sedated and out of danger,” the conference said in its statement released the night of July 28.

The Mexican bishops expressed their gratitude “to the entire team of doctors who are treating him and we reject these terrible acts of violence that we are experiencing in Mexico.”

“We pray that God would grant us the peace that we long for and we pray for the conversion of criminals who cause so much pain to society,” the bishops added.

Speaking with Milenio Televisión July 28, Father Filiberto Velázquez, a friend of the wounded priest, said that “violence in Mexico no longer respects anyone, it has already gotten to the churches, the priests, and this is intensifying.”

“We are concerned,” said the priest, and “we hope that the authorities can conduct an investigation to determine who is responsible for this attack.”

Velázquez pointed out that “the presence of organized crime is very strong” in the region, so “we’re not ruling out that they confused him with someone else.”

“What worries us is that the delinquency, criminality, and level of impunity don’t allow these rates to drop and that they can affect any citizen,” he said.

The bishop of Chilpancingo-Chilapa, José de Jesús González Hernández, said in a statement that “Father Felipe is being cared for by specialists, who tell us that he’s in poor condition, but stable, which gives us great hope for his recovery.”

The prelate said that “as a Local Church, in our State of Guerrero, we are working and have always declared ourselves in favor of building peace and the social fabric in our State, and especially in our Diocese, and we believe that this wasn’t the reason for this type of violent action.”

He added: “The people need to know that the authorities and institutions responsible for security and delivering justice are working to protect and care for them, as well as to be sure that impunity is no longer a constant in the delivery of justice and attention to and investigation of crimes.”

González said that “we make ours the rightful claim of the society in which we live, to have an environment of peace, tranquility, and security in Guerrero.”

The Guerrero State Attorney General’s Office stated on social media that it has opened “a file investigating those responsible for the crime of Firearm Injuries.”

“Agents from the Ministerial Investigative Police and personnel from Expert Services went to the scene to conduct the corresponding investigations to determine the facts,” the AG office statement said.

“The Guerrero AG’s Office reaffirms its commitment to combat impunity and criminal acts, in order to guarantee the peace and security of the people of Guerrero,” the social media post concluded.

According to local media, in the three and a half years of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s administration nearly 130,000 people have been murdered in Mexico, so when he completes his six-year term, it could become the most violent six-year term in the history of Mexico. In this same period, seven Catholic priests have been murdered.

According to official figures, from Jan. 1 to July 28, 2022, 15,232 homicides have been committed in Mexico.

The Catholic Church in Mexico has asked the faithful to join in a “Day of Prayer for Peace” during the month of July. July 31 will be especially dedicated to praying at Mass “for the perpetrators” and “the conversion of their hearts.”

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

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